Rajasthan Govt to provide 200 more medicines free of cost

Rajasthan is all set to provide 400 types of medicines free to patients at government-run hospitals from next month, adding 200 more to its original list and carrying forward a hugely popular initiative. The state government had launched a scheme Oct 2 to provide free medicines to people below and above the poverty line and currently 200 types of generic medicines are being provided free of cost to patients. "The free medicine scheme has been very well accepted by the masses and now we plan to make it more beneficial by adding 200 new generic medicines and increasing the number of counters at government-run hospitals," Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot told IANS. The drugs are being distributed through special counters set up at over 13,800 government health centres, dispensaries and hospitals across the state. "The state government has earmarked an annual budget of Rs.200 crore for the project and 40 million people are likely to benefit from the scheme each year," said the chief minister.
The popularity of the scheme can be gauged from the fact that the number of patients registering at the out-patient department (OPD) in some of the hospitals has increased by almost 50-100 percent. In Jaipur's SMS Hospital, the OPD patients figure has almost doubled. "In September, we were getting on an average of around 2,700 patients daily; now this figure is over 5,000," said L.C. Sharma, superintendent of SMS Hospital, Jaipur. Similarly, in Chittorgarh's government hospitals the average increase in October in comparison to September 2011 was 71 percent. "Compared to the September 2011 figures, the OPD load increased by almost 80 percent in the district hospital and by 62 percent in the Women and Children Hospital in Chittorgarh," said an activist with a local NGO. However, he said unavailability of generic medicines and long queues of patients due to lack of counters and shortage of doctors are still major challenges for the project. "We are aware of the situation and are taking steps to improve the services. We want to provide quality medical and healthcare facilities to everybody in the state," Gehlot added. He said the scheme was a major step towards providing social security to citizens.